A trekkers’ paradise, Nepal combines Himalayan views, golden temples, charming hill villages and jungle wildlife-watching to offer one of the world’s greatest travel destinations.
Nepal and the Himalayas – the two names go side by side. Nepal is one of the smallest countries of the world but has amazingly diverse geography, landscapes, culture and traditions. Situated in the lap of the mighty Himalayas, it is regarded as Dev Bhumi – the land of gods and worlds. Nepal is a multi-lingual, multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious country where two major religions, Hinduism and Buddhism, co-exist in perfect religious tolerance.
The three ancient cities of the valley – Patan, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur – represent an epitome of harmony in urban design, elegant architecture and refined culture. These cities are home to a concentration of religious monuments unequalled in the world including many UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Nepal is also one of the richest countries in the world in terms of bio-diversity, due to its unique geographical position and attitudinal variation. The elevation of the country ranges from 60 metres above sea level to the highest point on earth – Mount Everest at 8,848 metres. All this is within a distance of 150 kilometres, resulting in climatic conditions that range from sub-tropical to arctic.
Nepal has a monsoon climate and four main seasons, which are summer from June to September, autumn from October to December, winter from January to March and spring from April to June. The monsoons start in June and continues until September, with 2,500 millimetres of rain every year.
Spring season is the best time to visit Nepal. The temperatures in the summer rise to 28 degrees, however the hilly areas experience much higher temperatures due to the scorching sun. Autumn is another good season and one of the best times for trekking. In the winter the temperature reaches almost freezing, while hilly regions experience rough weather and heavy snowfall.
Bring loose, comfortable clothes that can be layered if travelling in the cooler months. Comfy walking shoes are a necessity, and a raincoat in the monsoon months. The Nepalese are quite modest so avoid wearing revealing clothes. At high altitude you will need sunscreen, a hat and lip balm. If you have certain toiletries that you only use, then bring those too.
Temperatures vary depending on which part of Nepal you are visiting, so make sure you research the temperatures beforehand and bring the required type of clothing.
Nepal is blessed with an astonishing array of ancient temples and palaces, and countless intricate woodcarvings and stone sculptures are dotted around its backstreets. Walking through the historic towns of the Kathmandu Valley, you will still discover magnificent medieval architecture at every turn. Nepal’s artistic masterpieces are not hidden away in dusty museums but are part of a living culture, to be touched, worshipped, feared – or simply paid no heed.
Because Nepal is such a multicultural nation, it has a lot of dances. There are two types of Nepalese traditional dance: classical and folk dances. Classical dances are based on the ancient classics and have been performed since ancient times. Nepalese folk dances are based on the songs and music of a particular group or area. Music is also an important element of Nepalese culture. It is a way of showing emotions, telling stories and for entertainment.
- Dress modestly, always remove footwear before entering a temple and walk around in a clockwise direction.
- The cow is a sacred animal so do not ask for beef in a restaurant.
- Do greet by joining the palms and bringing them slightly below the chin.
- Do get a receipt of authenticity when purchasing an antique replica and don’t export anything older than 100 years of religious and cultural importance.
The current population of Nepal is 29.3 million. There are about 101 ethnic groups speaking over 92 languages. In general they consist of Northern Himalayan people, Middle Hills and Valley people, and Tarai people; while the Kathmandu Valley represents a cultural melting pot of the country.
After officially being a Hindu kingdom for a long time, Nepal is now a secular country giving equal importance to all religions and giving its citizens the freedom to practice the religion of their choice. Over 81% of the population are Hindu; 9% are Buddhists; 4.4% are Muslims; and the remaining are Kiratis, Christians, Jains, Sikhs, Baha’is, Jews and others who do not follow any religion.